How miraa has split the church in Meru

Deleted verse in Kimeru Bible claimed Jesus received miraa as a gift

In Summary

• Some churches believe miraa is a drug and tell followers to neither eat nor sell it

• Archbishop Peter Miriti, however, welcomes miraa, citing a version of Kimeru Bible

A miraa plantation at Kunati in Tigania East, Meru county
A miraa plantation at Kunati in Tigania East, Meru county

A decade ago, the Kimeru version of the New Testament included miraa as an offertory, but it was deleted as fights against the stimulant escalated among men of cloth.

Miraa has always been part and parcel of offertory in churches in the miraa-growing region.

Most believers in Tigania and Igembe regions make monetary donations, but some never bother, instead carrying huge bunches of miraa, which they place on the table.

A pastor would then pick up the bunches of miraa and bless them to illustrate that the church values and accepts the stimulant as a ministry tool.

These bunches are then auctioned and the highest bidder in the congregation takes ownership.

Archbishop Peter Miriti of the Voice of the Healing Salvation Church said the Bible supports the issue of offering miraa in church at the altar and gifts to church ministers.

"In the book of Mathew, we read the story of Jesus receiving various types of gifts from his followers. The Kimeru version of the Bible says he received miraa," Miriti said.

The verse has been deleted in some Kimeru version Bibles.

The bishop added that for many years, miraa has been used to cultivate peace in times of misunderstanding and war.

He added that churches and the entire clergy will have an easier time resolving differences and conflicts among their followers if they embrace Miraa as a tool for reconciling people. 

He said his church receives miraa at the altar as an offering and blesses it.

In the book of Mathew, we read the story of Jesus receiving various types of gifts from his followers. The Kimeru version of the Bible says he received miraa
Peter Miriti


Miriti is a miraa farmer, and he uses most of his time blessing miraa farms owned by the members of his church. 

However, some churches still believe that miraa is a drug and tell their followers to neither consume nor engage in miraa's business.

It is not unusual for a pastor to extract a miraa twig from his coat to nibble, or to see an old woman chewing it while concentrating on every word of the sermon. 

James Mutwiri, a worshipper from Kangeta, says miraa is an important offertory item and it is accepted during church services.

“We attach great value to its role in raising money for the ministry,” he said.

He says miraa is regarded by the community as a ‘sacred’ crop that has sustained the spread of the gospel in the area, which is why most churches in the area have heavily invested in farms.

The church-owned farms generate a lot of revenue to fund church operations.

At the Methodist Church in Kenya (Ncunguru), they have a miraa farm, and the income is used to pay ministers and other workers serving in the circuit.

The church’s elders Kobia Mwirichia and Stanley Murungi said the income had enabled them to fund various operations.

Many churches and schools in the miraa-growing region of Igembe have miraa farms that sustain church operations, and which are also accepted as an offering.

They ‘disqualified’ studies that linked the product to mental problems and sexual dysfunction, saying miraa in fact strengthens libido.

To back up their argument, they said the people in the miraa-growing region who chew it daily work hard at their farms and take their children to schools, which are overflowing with children.

“I am a miraa farmer. I chew it and sleep well. It is better than beer, a very mild drug,”  Murungi said as he rubbished claims it causes infertility.

“It enhances (sexual) performance,” Murungi said.

Burieruri High School in Igembe Central subcounty had a farm that generated about Sh40,000 to sh120,000, depending on the season.

The money is partly used to pay salaries and to assist students from poor families.

The farm is a major source of income to fund activities.

Miraa also enhanced retention and thus improved academic performance.

Miraa used in dowry negotiations

He said if a man is unable to pay dowry but takes miraa to the girl’s father, he would be ‘given’ the girl.


The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse has repeatedly declared miraa a drug.

Two months ago, Nacada released a report on the status of drug and substance abuse in Kenya. It listed miraa, or khat, as one of the most abused drugs in the country, alongside tobacco and alcohol. 

These findings were challenged by angry miraa farmers and leaders in Meru. They questioned the national government’s commitment to the revitalisation of the crop's farming and marketing.

Many leaders seeking political positions have to assure the Meru people that the miraa crop will be protected and new markets established.

President William Ruto had pledged that once he takes the oath of office, he would deal with miraa cartels in pursuance of his Hustler National Plan to uplift the lives of Kenyans.

"Leave miraa cartels for me. I have a meeting this week with the Somali President to fast-track miraa markets," Ruto said.

"Miraa farmers should never be worried. I will deal with all brokers and cartels."

Both Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi and Senator Kathuri Murungi have decried detrimental measures developed in the miraa sub-sector.

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